Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ugli Fruit .... looks can be so deceiving...

At my high school, there was a guy in my class who was both physically and mentally challenged.  My graduating class was small - about 25 of us - and we were all good friends with no real cliques in the group.  Everyone liked him, and he was about as nice a guy as there could be, who tried not to allow himself to be limited by the disease he was born with.

Near the end of Senior year, we had a banquet for the Juniors and Seniors (a Christian school's version of prom).  He asked if I would go with him...  which was the first time in my 17 years anyone had asked me out.  I felt torn - on the one hand, I wanted to say yes to avoid hurting his feelings, but on the other hand, I had an idealized, romantic vision of what my first date would be like.  In my young mind, I somehow thought that a first date with him, or anyone other than the guy I really wanted to go out with, but who I knew would never ask me, would plummet my already less-than-popular status.  And so I said no, and my best friend and I went together, which of course is second best to going with the perfect guy, and maybe even better since most high school guys are far from perfect!

As it turns out, now I don't even remember my first "real" date, who it was with, or when it was, which goes to show that it was still far from whatever fantasy I had imagined.  As life usually is.

Most kids worry about being popular, and are so horribly judgmental of each other.  I think I'm lucky that when I was in high school, no one had cell phones, Internet, Facebook, YouTube, or any other methods of social media by which to judge popularity status, and I wonder what I'll be in for by the time I have kids that age!  I hope that I can teach my kids someday to make choices that are kind and selfless, not to judge others by how popular, attractive or athletic they are, but to be able to find beauty and friendship all around them.

While grocery shopping today, Jamie and I saw the strangest looking fruit called "Ugli" fruit, also known as a Jamaican Tangelo, a wild hybrid of grapefruit, orange and tangerine.  The guy stocking the fruit asked if we wanted to taste it and was nice enough to cut one open for us to try.  To my surprise, it was absolutely delicious - citrusy, sweet and very juicy - so we brought one home to share.

Just as the Ugli fruit surprised me today with it's pebbly, thick peel but beautiful orange fruit inside, I hope to always keep my mind open to the beauty around me.

Blueberry Oat Ricotta Pancakes (flourless)

Spring is approaching cautiously with a few warm days here and there, interspersed with clouds, lots of wind and chilly nights.  The other morning when I left for work it was in the 20s, but then rose to almost 60 by lunchtime.

I want to see flowers and blue skies.  I have no patience waiting for spring to come!  I have a new pair of pink, flowered sandals just waiting to be paired with my white skirt.

The other day, my mom sent me a recipe she'd found for flourless blueberry pancakes.  The combination of oats, yogurt and blueberries sounded good, but I was a little skeptical that the makings of a bowl of oatmeal would turn into anything resembling pancakes.  However, I liked the idea of it, and new, healthy recipes are always worth a try.

I'm not against flour, and use plenty of it in my baking, but since nutritionally it's about as beneficial as sugar, I do like finding substitutes now and then.  Of course, I made some changes - ricotta instead of yogurt.  A thick blueberry sauce to pour over them, so that the butter and syrup wouldn't be missed.

Even with almost no added sugar, the pancakes were plenty sweet from all the blueberries and completely satisfying for a pancake craving.  The pancakes were cute and little and just the right amount for two people, although I doubled the recipe below for four servings.

I don't even think they taste like they were made without flour and can see variations of these becoming a staple go-to pancake recipe for us for a healthy alternative to the traditional recipes with lots of flour, sugar, oil and butter.

Blueberry Oat Ricotta Pancakes (flourless)
printable recipe

pancake batter:
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) blueberries
blueberry syrup:
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water

In a blender, combine the oats, ricotta cheese, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, maple syrup and buttermilk.  Blend until smooth.  Stir in 1 1/2 cups blueberries and set aside.

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine 1 1/2 cups blueberries, maple syrup, lemon juice and water.  Cook until the blueberries release their juices, then puree in your blender or using an immersion blender.  Simmer on low while you cook the pancakes.

Preheat your griddle and spray with non-stick spray.  Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup to measure the batter, cook the pancakes until golden brown on each side.  Serve with the warm blueberry sauce.

Yields 16 small pancakes - 4 servings.
WW Points Plus Value:  9 points for 4 pancakes with blueberry sauce

Recipe adapted from Blueberry Oat Pancakes from The Carb Lover's Diet.